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UC Berkeley Student’s West Nile Virus Misdiagnosed As Concussion, Meningitis

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MODESTO (CBS13) — It was a medical mystery: A perfectly healthy college student who was suddenly in so much pain she could barely walk.

After weeks, doctors figured out that the UC Berkeley student had the West Nile virus.

It may be months before Abbey Murphy is back to normal. It took weeks and several trips to the emergency room, as well as a week-long hospital stay for doctors to discover what was really wrong.

She can’t believe it was all caused by a single mosquito.

“I don’t remember having any mosquito bites or anything,” she said.

The otherwise healthy 19-year-old went from training for a triathlon to being in so much pain she could hardly get off the couch. She’s lost weight and her headaches have been so bad, doctors prescribed morphine.

“I looked at my arms and noticed a little bit of a rash and said that’s kinda odd,” she said.

Then, she fell on a bike ride.

“I was like, oh Ok, my neck just hurts because of the accident; oh my rash is just because I ate something,” she said.

The UC Berkeley sophomore was misdiagnosed several times. Doctors first thought concussion, then meningitis. Then finally figured out it was West Nile.

“When I get up I get a little bit nauseous and sometimes I get dizzy and lightheaded and try to collect myself before I can like walk around,” she said.

Experts say there’s increased virus activity this year because of the drought.

Murphy should be getting ready to head back to UC Berkeley. Instead, she’s spending the rest of the summer resting at home in Modesto while her college career is on hold.

At least 10 people in Stanislaus County have gotten West Nile this year, and two have died. Experts warn the season lasts into October.

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